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S$10 rebate for Punggol households affected by discoloured tap water

The rebate will compensate for running 5,000 litres of water – or about 10 days of water usage for a typical HDB household – through the taps to clear the discoloured water, PUB says.

SINGAPORE: Thousands of households in Punggol will receive a S$10 rebate each in their utilities bill for August, after discoloured water ran from their taps for two days earlier this month.

A total of 348 blocks in the estate were found to be affected following investigations, national water agency PUB said on Monday (June 23) in response to TODAY’s queries.

The incident occurred on June 12 and 13, and was initially said to affect about 50 blocks. PUB had explained that the brownish water was safe for drinking and the discolouration was caused by mineral sediments in a water pipeline stirred up during valve operations on a potable water pipe along the Tampines Expressway. The operations were to facilitate the connection of a newly-laid pipe.

Issuing an apology soon after, PUB pledged to offer rebates to the affected households, without specifying the details.

In a letter dated Saturday issued to affected households, Mr Chong Hou Chun, director of PUB’s water supply department, apologised again and gave details of the rebates.

Mr Chong said the rebates will compensate for running 5,000 litres of water – or about 10 days of water usage for a typical Housing and Development Board (HDB) household – through the taps to clear the discoloured water.

He added that, after receiving reports of discoloured water on the afternoon of June 12, PUB staff went to the site to flush the water mains and assist customers in flushing their service pipes. The agency also arranged for temporary water supply through water bags and water wagons.

The water in the mains had cleared up by the next morning, he said. PUB and the Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council subsequently flushed the affected water tanks.

However, some residents still had discoloured water, which was left in the pipes, running from their taps and were advised to leave their taps on until the water was clear.

A PUB spokesperson told TODAY this is not the first time residents have been given rebates due to issues with water quality. However, she did not say when the previous times were.

Pasir Ris-Punggol Town Council chairman and Member of Parliament Zainal Sapari described the rebates as a “goodwill gesture” by PUB and said the amount was reasonable, given that it could pay for a 10-day supply of water for a typical HDB household.

Still, Mr Zainal noted that the compensation might be inadequate for some residents who had felt unsafe using the discoloured water from their taps and had bought bottled water.

“Even though PUB has assured them it is safe, I think it is natural for people to have some concern because the water doesn’t look normal,” said Mr Zainal.

He added: “I know PUB will never be able to compensate (for) the inconvenience the residents went through. But I think the fact (that) it has apologised for the incident and, (given) the goodwill (the PUB has shown) ... it is more important that we move on and learn from this incident to prevent similar occurrences.”

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